(TIMES OF ISRAEL, AFP) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an immediate ceasefire in the Israel–Hamas conflict on Monday, as he alleged that the bombarded Gaza Strip was becoming a “graveyard for children”.
“The unfolding catastrophe makes the need for a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent with every passing hour,” he told reporters at the UN headquarters.
Israel’s envoy to the UN charged that Guterres must resign for not calling instead on Hamas to surrender, and Jerusalem’s Foreign Minister panned the UN chief for not denouncing the terror group as the root of the problem in the Palestinian coastal enclave.
“The parties to the conflict – and, indeed, the international community – face an immediate and fundamental responsibility: to stop this inhuman collective suffering and dramatically expand humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Guterres said.
“The nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis. It is a crisis of humanity.”
Israel’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan said in response that Guterres has “rotten morals” for not persistently calling on Hamas to surrender and demanding the release of the at least 240 hostages held in the Gaza Strip.
By failing to do so, Guterres “has lost his moral compass and must not stay even for another minute in his position”, Erdan posted on X, formerly Twitter.
“Any UN representative who makes the false moral comparison between a brutal terrorist organisation that commits war crimes, and a law-abiding democracy, proves himself to have rotten morals and should immediately resign from his position,” Erdan said.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen reacted by posting about the plight of the hostages, which include dozens of children, some of them infants.
“Shame on you,” he wrote, addressing Guterres. “More than 30 minors – among them a nine-month-old baby as well as toddlers and children who witnessed their parents being murdered in cold blood – are being held against their will in the Gaza Strip.
“Hamas is the problem in Gaza, not Israel’s actions to eliminate this terrorist organisation,” Cohen wrote.
Guterres also deplored the killings of media workers. According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 36 journalists and media workers have been killed in Gaza. “More journalists have reportedly been killed over a four-week period than in any conflict in at least three decades,” Guterres said.
Aid trucks have been coming into Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing, but Israel is saying it needs time for security checks of vehicles.
Israel has imposed a blockade of fuel imports into the Strip, arguing that Hamas uses it to operate its weapons system and maintain its underground tunnels, and has limited the entry of other supplies. It says Hamas is hoarding fuel that could be used by the civilian population.
“Without fuel, newborn babies in incubators and patients on life support will die,” Guterres said.
Guterres again voiced alarm about the “clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing”.
“Let me be clear: No party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law,” he said.
Guterres previously outraged Israel on October 24 at a Security Council meeting where he alleged violations of humanitarian law and said that the Hamas attacks “did not occur in a vacuum”, leading Israeli officials to accuse the UN chief of justifying violence.
Guterres denied that was his intention, and on Monday repeated his condemnation of “the abhorrent acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas”, and urged the Islamist terrorists to free hostages taken on October 7.